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Russia to Restart Project 12322 Zubr-class Large LCAC Production

Naval Forces News - Russia
Russia to Restart Project 12322 Zubr-class Large LCAC Production
Russia is set to resume the construction of Project 12322 Zubr-class air-cushion landing craft capable of delivering three main battle tanks weighing up to 150 tons or 10 armored personnel carriers with marines to the unequipped coast. The new Zubrs will supersede the Project 21820 Dugon-class air-cavern landing craft having a lower load-carrying capacity. The construction of the first all-Russian Zubr ships is to begin in 2018, newspaper Izvestia reported.
Russia to Restart Project 12322 Zubr-class Large LCAC ProductionProject 12322 Zubr-class air-cushion landing craft (pictured here: Sea trials of Ukraine-built Zubr-class intended for the PLAN).
The issue with the contractor is being considered, a source in the Main Navy Command told Izvestia. It is planned to invite the Almaz shipbuilding plant in St. Petersburg, Feodosia’s More Plant, Khabarovsk Shipbuilding Yard, and possibly Kaliningrad-based Yantar Shipyard to participate in the tender. All these enterprises built or maintained air-cushion ships at different times.

Almaz is the front-runner in the list. At one time, it built ten Zubr craft for the Soviet Navy. The plant also participated in the delivery of Project 12322 ships to Greece. Meanwhile, it is currently busy building floating cranes and border guard ships. Feodosia’s More Plant had built two Zubr ships for China under Ukroboronprom’s contract before the return of Crimea to Russia. There is still one incomplete hull of the air-cushion ship at the enterprise. In 2004-2006, JSC Khabarovsk Shipbuilding Yard built the Project 12061 Murena-class boats for South Korea. The Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad has also been invited to participate in the tender. The company has experience in repairing Evgeny Kocheshkov, one of the two Zubrships operational with the Baltic Fleet. However, as the Command noted, the invitation of this enterprise to the tender is rather a formality. Yantar will soon focus on completing three Project 11356 frigates. Their construction was frozen because of Ukraine's refusal to supply the Zorya-Mashproekt-made power plants pre-paid by Russia.

"The resumption of Zubr craft construction is primarily connected with launching gas turbine units at the Saturn Plant,"
expert Andrei Frolov told Izvestia. "These are good ships for which there is always a niche. Such a high-speed landing craft will be in demand in the enclosed theatres of naval operations like the Black, Baltic or Caspian Seas. In such a manner we also maintain our competences in the construction of large air-cushion ships. "

According to the expert, the existing amphibious ships of the Dugon and Gyurza projects are not enough to accomplish the tasks facing the Navy and the Marine Corps. "We still do not have good diesel engines, which led to problems with the Dugons," added Andrei Frolov, "The Zubrs have already been tested, proved themselves and even enjoyed demand abroad."

The Project 12322 craft has a length of 57 meters and a beam of 20 meters. The displacement of the ship is 535 tons and the draft is 2 meters. It is powered by high-temperature gas-turbine engines. Four fans with a diameter of 2.5 meters provide an air cushion for the ship. The ship is propelled by another three variable-pitch propellers of 5.5 meters in diameter and develops a speed of 70 knots.

The ship is able to land troops onto the unequipped coast. Another feature of the Zubr is a reduced visibility for radars. This effect is achieved due to the fact that the ship moves in a giant cloud of spray that "blurs" its outlines on the radar screens.

In addition to amphibious lift, the Zubr can plant minefields and, if necessary, provide fire support to the amphibious force. Two Grad-M multiple rocket launchers are installed on the ship. By the beginning of the 1990s, the Soviet Navy had operated eight Zubrs. After the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine inherited five of them and Russia three, Izvestia recalls.

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